yep .. it seems i’m falling in love with this city .. real hard!
My story with london begins back in 1995 .. in that year .. I traveled to Cardiff, Wales.
That trip was my first trip to UK .. i’ve never been to london back then and we decided to visit London for a day .. it was a 4 hours trip by train i think .. or 2 hours .. i’m already getting old and things are being slipping out of my mind a lot lately so don’t judge me :p
My cousins who went with me on that trip been to London before so they were like my guides in the trip .. where should we go and what to see!!
I can’t say they were bad guides but i’ll make you judge on that .. as soon as we arrived there they took me straight to Edgware Road!! (a place that doesn’t belong to London from where i see it!)
I hated the place .. i’m walking around and Arabic signs were all over the place!! .. Arab tourists walking around or sitting in Cafes on their striped Dishdashas! (we wear it as a pyjama for god sake!!)
I couldn’t wait to leave the place as soon as possible .. then we changed the place to the Hyde Park! .. it was Summer Time .. and Arab tourists were all over the place .. i really felt i was walking around in an Arabic country!!!!!!!!!! .. is that London?!! .. is that the city everybody was talking about?!!!! … eeekkh!!
Two years after that .. i went for an English course in a summer school in Nottingham! .. and the school took us on a trip to London for a day again .. and i was with the same guides .. nothing changed .. London is still as i saw it for the first time .. i still hate it .. i’m not coming to you again my dear!
between 1997 and 2012 i haven’t been to London again .. and each time i hear someone talking about London i tell them i hate it and i’m not thinking of going back to it .. although they kept telling me you should visit it again and we will tell you where to go!
our fellow bloggerette Danderma was always posting about London and what to get and where to go .. but i didn’t really felt that i wanted to go there to try any of the things she was talking about!
The turning point was last year .. back in November a friend of mine called me up asking me to join him on a London trip .. he should attend a training course there so he offered me to buy my ticket and bring my pocket-money .. he is paying for our accommodation!
Thinking about it .. i said i would give it another try and maybe try to discover it alone .. with some help from Danderma blog! .. so i said OK .. i’m going!
We went for a week .. far as i remember .. when i was in london back in the 90s .. shops were closing at 5 PM!! .. people were not nice and i felt they hated us Arabs!
Things were really different when i went in 2012 .. people were nicer .. shops are opining longer .. city is safer!
I saw the real London .. away from Edgware Road .. in fact .. i didn’t even went to the Hyde Park!
When i got back .. i felt i want to go again .. and i actually did .. i went again on March 2013 .. and here are what i have to say about it:
I booked my tickets with British Airways .. they were having special offers and i got the ticket for 198 KD.
– Direct Flight.
– if you need extra weight you can buy by bags .. you will be for an extra bag which will give you 23 kilos extra .. each passenger can have up to 3 bags .. the first bag costs around 15kd .. the second bag will cost more.
– a separate terminal for British Airways .. not that crowded .. and relatively new compared to other terminals!
– Big airport with a lot of check in counters that you can use to check in your luggage.
– VAT counter is not that crowded compared to other terminals since Kuwait flight is sharing the flying time with one or two flights only .. so the airport feel empty!
– Arrival time is great as you don’t have to wait for the check in time in your hotel, also arriving at almost 12 pm will give you the rest of the day to count in your holiday!
– Buying the cheapest ticket will put you in the regular economy class .. which is kinda small in terms of leg space.
– Kinda old plane, in my return flight my screen wasn’t working so imagine how would i spend the 6 hours flight!
– Departure time is not that great .. it might be good as you can still have time to go around in your last day in London but your flight will be @ 9 PM .. you are checking out your hotel @ 12 PM or 1 PM at most (The Cumberland) and you have to leave to the airport @ around 5 PM so you can avoid the rush hour!
– Arriving to Kuwait will be @ 6 AM which means its hard to come back on Saturday and arrive on Sunday .. you will take Friday flight for sure!
Those are the point that i remember about the flight so far!!
I stayed in The Cumberland ..
– It has a good location .. although i didn’t like it much myself .. but everything is just around the corner for you .. it is in front of the Hyde Park .. Marble Arch station is next to it .. KFC is very near .. PRIMARK is across the street!
– Stylish reception and a fast serving staff.
– For me .. the cons is that it is far from the places i like to go to .. it is in a good place if you are a fan of silfredges and Harrods .. i’m not .. i know you would say there is an underground station next to me .. but it is actually not a main one .. only the red line is operating in it!! comparing to Waterloo station (the one i stayed near in my visit in 2012) .. it is nothing!
– Rooms are kinda small .. not heated enough!
I will be posting about places and restaurants i tried in the coming days!
as for this post .. it is closing up .. just some points i need to raise!
– London is expensive .. it is always nice to learn in your travels and try to figure out your way around .. so stop using Taxis .. walk more .. get an Oyster card from the underground stations .. you can get a week pass which will allow you to use underground and busses as much as you want for a whole week for around 15 kd!
– If you are traveling with one bag .. you can use the Heathrow Express .. it has the advantage of being faster than Taxis in most times .. and it is cheaper to get a return ticket .. it will drop you to Paddington station and you can take a Taxi from their to your hotel!
– If you need a cab from your hotel to the airport .. it is better if you find one yourself .. don’t take the ones in front of the hotel as they will charge you more .. and the ones the hotel will call for you might take more than what should be .. make sure you mention how many person and how many pieces of luggage you have .. for me .. i took a cab from Cumberland to Terminal 5 .. we were 2 persons with 4 pieces of luggage other than the carry ons .. it costs me 45 pounds!
– You can always do your VAT refunds before going to the airport .. all you need is your passport and your receipts with the VAT forms .. there is a currency exchange place in front of Debenhams in Oxford street that can do the refunds for you .. they will pay you in cash.
– If you bought anything from a place and you forgot to get the VAT form you can take your receipt to any branch of the place you bought from and they could do the form for you!
– Coins do have a real value there!
– If you are shopping for chocolates .. make sure to scan the supermarkets before you start buying as some supermarkets may do some offers that will let you get it half the price!